"Islamopop: Listening to Muslimgauze after September 11, 2001"

I don't know if one can describe September 11, 2001 as a “magic moment,” but the events of that day forced many Muslims in “the West” to ask themselves “What is a Muslim?” As Guru raps in Gang Starr's track “Who's Gonna Take the Weight,” “I was raised as a Muslim praying to the east.” However, as a born-again atheist and British-Pakistani against the war in Afghanistan, I became interpellated as a Muslim and thus a potential enemy of “freedom”and “democracy.”

As someone who regularly puts together mix tapes and CDs in order to help the music of the past and present make sense of the contemporary moment, soon after 9/11 I juxtaposed the early 90s Brit 'ardcore of Messiah's “There is No Law” with Detroit Techno artist Andre Holland's “City of Fear,” the ‘70s experimental electronics of Cabaret Voltaire's “Voice of America/Damage is Done” and Throbbing Gristle's “What a day.” But the sounds that captured the terror and paranoia of the moment most graphically came from Muslimgauze.

Muslimgauze is dissonant electronica that samples and processes music and voices from the Islamic world and packages it in confrontational art work that arguably places Islamo-chic alongside Islamophobia. Muslimgauze is actually the late Bryn Jones from Manchester, a non-Muslim. What are the implications of such transnational Islamic and possibly Islamist imaginaries in British popular music culture? And ones performed by non-Muslims at that? This presentation builds upon and contributes to debates about British Muslim identifications.

abstract by Nabeel Zuberi (University of Auckland)
Education / 2004 Pop Conference (Race Lines and Bass Lines Friday, April 16, 2004, 10:45 - 12:15)


Nabeel Zuberi is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Film, Television and Media Studies at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Between 1988-91 he wrote about music for the Michigan Daily and Detroit Metro Times. From 1994-1996 he hosted Roots & Routes on Austin's KVRX 91.7 FM. His Sounds English: Transnational Popular Music (2001) examines debates about popular music and national identity in the 1980s and 90s. He is also co-editor (with Luke Goode) of Media Studies in Aotearoa, New Zealand (2004).

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